Securities and Exchange Com'n v. Texas Gulf Sulphur Co.

Decision Date13 August 1968
Docket NumberDocket 30882.,No. 296,296
Citation401 F.2d 833
PartiesSECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TEXAS GULF SULPHUR CO., a Texas Corporation, Charles F. Fogarty, Richard D. Mollison, Walter Holyk, Kenneth H. Darke, Francis G. Coates, Claude O. Stephens, John A. Murray, Earl L. Huntington, and Harold B. Kline, Defendants-Appellees. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. David M. CRAWFORD and Richard H. Clayton, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit

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Philip A. Loomis, Jr., Gen. Counsel, David Ferber, Sol., Roger S. Foster, Sp. Counsel, Ofc. of Policy Research, SEC, Frank E. Kennamer, Jr., Asst. Gen. Counsel, Donald M. Feuerstein, Atty., SEC, for Securities and Exchange Commission.

Orison S. Marden, White & Case, William D. Conwell, Edward C. Schmults, P. R. Konrad Knake, Thomas McGanney, Peter G. Eikenberry, New York City, for Texas Gulf Sulphur, Fogarty, Mollison, Holyk, Darke, Stephens, Murray, Huntington and Kline, for Crawford and Clayton.

Albert R. Connelly, Donald I. Strauber, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, New York City, for Coates.

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, and WATERMAN, MOORE, FRIENDLY, SMITH, KAUFMAN, HAYS, ANDERSON and FEINBERG, Circuit Judges.

Submitted to in Banc Court May 2, 1968.

WATERMAN, Circuit Judge:

This action was commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC) pursuant to Sec. 21(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the Act), 15 U.S.C. § 78u(e), against Texas Gulf Sulphur Company (TGS) and several of its officers, directors and employees, to enjoin certain conduct by TGS and the individual defendants said to violate Section 10(b) of the Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5 (17 CFR 240.10b-5) (the Rule), promulgated thereunder, and to compel the rescission by the individual defendants of securities transactions assertedly conducted contrary to law.1 The complaint alleged (1) that defendants Fogarty, Mollison, Darke, Murray, Huntington, O'Neill, Clayton, Crawford, and Coates had either personally or through agents purchased TGS stock or calls thereon from November 12, 1963 through April 16, 1964 on the basis of material inside information concerning the results of TGS drilling in Timmins, Ontario, while such information remained undisclosed to the investing public generally or to the particular sellers2; (2) that defendants Darke and Coates had divulged such information to others for use in purchasing TGS stock or calls3 or recommended its purchase while the information was undisclosed to the public or to the sellers;4 that defendants Stephens, Fogarty, Mollison, Holyk, and Kline had accepted options to purchase TGS stock on Feb. 20, 1964 without disclosing the material information as to the drilling progress to either the Stock Option Committee or the TGS Board of Directors; and (4) that TGS issued a deceptive press release on April 12, 1964. The case was tried at length before Judge Bonsal of the Southern District of New York, sitting without a jury. Judge Bonsal in a detailed opinion5 decided, inter alia, that the insider activity prior to April 9, 1964 was not illegal because the drilling results were not "material" until then; that Clayton and Crawford had traded in violation of law because they traded after that date; that Coates had committed no violation as he did not trade before disclosure was made; and that the issuance of the press release was not unlawful because it was not issued for the purpose of benefiting the corporation, there was no evidence that any insider used the release to his personal advantage and it was not "misleading, or deceptive on the basis of the facts then known," 258 F.Supp. 262, at 292-296 (SDNY 1966). Defendants Clayton and Crawford appeal from that part of the decision below which held that they had violated Sec. 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 and the SEC appeals from the remainder of the decision which dismissed the complaint against defendants TGS, Fogarty, Mollison, Holyk, Darke, Stephens, Kline, Murray, and Coates.6

For reasons which appear below, we decide the various issues presented as follows:

(1) As to Clayton and Crawford, as purchasers of stock on April 15 and 16, 1964, we affirm the finding that they violated 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b) and Rule 10b-5 and remand, pursuant to the agreement by all the parties, for a determination of the appropriate remedy.

(2) As to Murray, we affirm the dismissal of the complaint.

(3) As to Mollison and Holyk, as recipients of certain stock options, we affirm the dismissal of the complaint.

(4) As to Stephens and Fogarty, as recipients of stock options, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint and remand for a further determination as to whether an injunction, in the exercise of the trial court's discretion, should issue.

(5) As to Kline, as a recipient of a stock option, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint and remand with directions to issue an order rescinding the option and for a determination of any other appropriate remedy in connection therewith.

(6) As to Fogarty, Mollison, Holyk, Darke, and Huntington, as purchasers of stock or calls thereon between November 12, 1963, and April 9, 1964, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint and find that they violated 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b) and Rule 10b-5, and remand, pursuant to the agreement of all the parties, for a determination of the appropriate remedy.

(7) As to Clayton, although the district judge did not specify that the complaint be dismissed with respect to his purchases of TGS stock before April 9, 1964, such a dismissal is implicit in his treatment of the individual appellees who acted similarly. Consequently, although Clayton is named only as an appellant our decision with respect to the materiality of K-55-1 renders it necessary to treat him also as an appellee. Thus, as to him, as one who purchased stock between November 12, 1963 and April 9, 1964, we reverse the implicit dismissal of the complaint, find that he violated § 78j(b) and Rule 10b-5, and remand, pursuant to the agreement by all the parties, for a determination of the appropriate remedy.

(8) As to Darke, as one who passed on information to tippees, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint and remand, pursuant to the agreement by all the parties, for a determination of the appropriate remedy.

(9) As to Coates, as one who on April 16th purchased stock and gave information on which his son-in-law broker and the broker's customers purchased shares, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint, find that he violated 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b) and Rule 10b-5, and remand, pursuant to the agreement by all the parties, for a determination of the appropriate remedy.

(10) As to Texas Gulf Sulphur, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint and remand for a further determination by the district judge in the light of the approach taken in this opinion.

The occurrences out of which this litigation arose are not set forth hereafter in as detailed a manner as they are set out in the published opinion of the court below, but are stated sufficiently, we believe, for the exposition of the issues raised by the several appeals to us.

THE FACTUAL SETTING

This action derives from the exploratory activities of TGS begun in 1957 on the Canadian Shield in eastern Canada. In March of 1959, aerial geophysical surveys were conducted over more than 15,000 square miles of this area by a group led by defendant Mollison, a mining engineer and a Vice President of TGS. The group included defendant Holyk, TGS's chief geologist, defendant Clayton, an electrical engineer and geophysicist, and defendant Darke, a geologist. These operations resulted in the detection of numerous anomalies, i. e., extraordinary variations in the conductivity of rocks, one of which was on the Kidd 55 segment of land located near Timmins, Ontario.

On October 29 and 30, 1963, Clayton conducted a ground geophysical survey on the northeast portion of the Kidd 55 segment which confirmed the presence of an anomaly and indicated the necessity of diamond core drilling for further evaluation. Drilling of the initial hole, K-55-1, at the strongest part of the anomaly was commenced on November 8 and terminated on November 12 at a depth of 655 feet. Visual estimates by Holyk of the core of K-55-1 indicated an average copper content of 1.15% and an average zinc content of 8.64% over a length of 599 feet. This visual estimate convinced TGS that it was desirable to acquire the remainder of the Kidd 55 segment, and in order to facilitate this acquisition TGS President Stephens instructed the exploration group to keep the results of K-55-1 confidential and undisclosed even as to other officers, directors, and employees of TGS. The hole was concealed and a barren core was intentionally drilled off the anomaly. Meanwhile, the core of K-55-1 had been shipped to Utah for chemical assay which, when received in early December, revealed an average mineral content of 1.18% copper, 8.26% zinc, and 3.94% ounces of silver per ton over a length of 602 feet. These results were so remarkable that neither Clayton, an experienced geophysicist, nor four other TGS expert witnesses, had ever seen or heard of a comparable initial exploratory drill hole in a base metal deposit. So, the trial court concluded, "There is no doubt that the drill core of K-55-1 was unusually good and that it excited the interest and speculation of those who knew about it." Id. at 282. By March 27, 1964, TGS decided that the land acquisition program had advanced to such a point that the company might well resume drilling, and drilling was resumed on March 31.

During this period, from November 12, 1963 when K-55-1 was completed, to March 31,...

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